Kia ora e te whanau
I received an email recently where the writer noted that “old-fashioned is in fashion.” What an interesting statement! Generally, we associate fashions as moving quickly and we discard things, not because something is broken or worn out, but because someone says we need to – it's out of fashion. We don’t have time to get bored, every season we’re convinced the “new look” is what we need to have, and we believe it. Thinking back to the baggies, mullet hairstyles and camel nomads (all the rage in 80’s), perhaps this is a good thing! But what else is being promoted as unfashionable?
It is timely, as we come together to celebrate our Mercy Day today, to reflect on this. Catherine McAuley, founder of the Mercy Sisters, was called to educate poor girls, to leave school “Caring for the poor, uneducated and disadvantaged in whatever cultural or social context it operates.” While a philosophy forged some 200 years ago, it is every bit as relevant today as it was then. At St Peter’s, this informs what we teach our young people as being “in fashion.”
A St Peter’s student….
Our Mercy traditions, built on the foundations laid by the many outstanding Sisters and lay staff and supported by families who are involved, as well as the wider St Peter’s community, are acknowledged and celebrated today. As a College, we are confident that if our graduates leave having achieved the things listed above, they will be able to stand tall in any situation, and certainly, we will have succeeded in growing a great adult – something which will never be out of fashion!
Charity Fulfils the Law
Kai ora e te whanau
This week all around the motu (country) we celebrated Maori language week, and the theme was ‘Te Kupu o te Wiki’ – “The Word of the Week.’ We have had many opportunities this week to broaden our horizons and cherish the language and we will continue to work towards a more equal partnership and relationship with Mana Whenua.
Each week all teachers commit to a professional learning session that we call ‘tikanga time’ and this is led by Mrs Victoria Kelly with assistance from our Kaiawhina, Whaea Vanessa. Almost all teachers are now able to recite their pepeha without reading from a piece of paper and we enjoy incorporating our Catholic traditions with Maori history. We had a particularly special session this week run by Mrs Bridget Ryan on Bishop Pompallier’s arrival to Aotearoa’s shores in the Hokianga, our Catholic birthplace in New Zealand.
It was timely then this week that we welcomed the Catholic special character review team to St Peter’s College. The team consisted of retired principal, Mr Paul Richardson, Catholic schools’ manager, Mr Callan Goodall and Director of Religious Studies from Kavanagh College, Mr Pesamino Tili. Our Kapa Haka group welcomed the team on Monday in a Mihi Whakatau with haka and waiata. The review team praised us for the bi-cultural strength and flavour in the school.
We will receive their full report and recommendations in due course, but some highlights fed back to us already include:
- “Inspired by the student executive team. Excellent engagement from the servant leadership council”
- “A community of volunteers- that’s just what we do”
- “Strengths come through from St Mary’s”
- “Emphasis on the whole person. Excellent pastoral care.”
I am very proud of the way the students have returned to school from lockdown, happy to see each other and re-engage with their teachers. Seniors are committed to achieving enough credits to pass this year and move on to their next goals in life. With this type of disruption and uncertainty however, there is more room for the dangers of anxiety and depression creeping in for our young people. Their sense of hope for the future has been rocked again and it can be easy to dwell on the terrible statistics we see coming out of many countries around the world in relation to Covid deaths and so forth, not to mention the worrying trends of climate change and other natural disasters around the world.
There is no doubt that depression and anxiety abound in most young people’s lives. The WHO reports that "by 2023 depression will be the second most common cause of premature death world wide..." We know that depression and feelings of helplessness are real and all-consuming to our young people.
+ Being a little stressed is healthy
+ Being a little anxious is ok
+ Being depressed is NOT ok
There is a reason why the phrase
“Be Not afraid”
occurs 365 times in the scriptures! Fear is a daily activity.
Kia ora e te whanau,
Welcome back to school at Level 2! It was so great to see the students and staff back yesterday and while not all teenagers will admit it, I think they were pretty happy to be back too. Thank you to all of you parents and caregivers who have been the “home school teachers” over the last three weeks. Parents are the unsung heroes of lockdown. Navigating the varying challenges of each Alert Level has at times been difficult for New Zealanders, and we can all be proud to have successfully navigated these challenges in our community.
Like last time, I am very mindful of the extra time our students and staff have been glued to their computers and how unhealthy this can be. While we are lucky to live in the 21st century and have the technological advances that enable us to connect via distance to learn from anywhere, this is not without its dangers. Recently a parent shared with me a Radio NZ article that spoke of a new study that links digital devices to poorer achievement. International data is showing us that an over reliance and use of computers to learn in the classroom is leading teenagers to do worse in reading, maths, and science. Now that we are back in school it is important that we find the right balance, use technology well and appropriately. This means not using computers for gaming and time filling activities like scrolling through social media.
St Peter’s College teachers have met countless expectations over lockdown by going above and beyond, many with their own children they were also trying to “home school” while teaching yours. They did this with aligned purpose and passion, exceeding the daily expectations of teachers. They have made me very proud, and I am lucky to work with such committed people every day for your child. Please know that while I hold high expectations for our teachers, they hold even higher expectations for themselves. This often leads to late nights and weekends away from their families.
We give you praise, O God, for everything that is new and beautiful, for everything which holds promise and brings us joy.
Bless us as we return to school to be with our friends and teachers. Help us to make the most of every chance we have to start afresh.
May we show love to one another and to all. May the new beginning of this week remind us that you give us chances to start over again and again.
Help us to forgive others as we receive your forgiveness. Help us to learn and to work together.
Help us to listen when we should and to know the best words when we speak and when it is better not to speak.
We thank you for our friends: Help us to be good friends this year.
Help us to be patient with ourselves and with others.
Bless our school and keep us safe. Be with us as we travel each day.
Help us to be aware of your love shown to us in the people around us. Bless all those who care for us in school and at home. Help us show our care for them and to say sorry when we need to.
May the Blessed Mother Mary protect us
“Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed,
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9